#SPECTRE could be @007 James Bond’s last film for Sony Pictures – an annotated infographic

July 22, 2015

After the UK premiere and nationwide opening of Spectre on October 26, the James Bond franchise will be open to the highest bidder, as the four-movie distribution deal between Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer expires.

Given that each of the most recent Bond films has made an incredible amount of money – Skyfall being one of a very select number of films to trouser £100 million at the UK box office alone (look at the bar graph below!) – you can expect the competition for the rights to be fierce.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

The name's Pictures. Sony Pictures.

The name’s Pictures. Sony Pictures.

#JurassicWorld map of Isla Nublar – an annotated infographic

July 20, 2015

Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar is now a fully functioning dinosaur theme park – Jurassic World. Facing a fall in visitor numbers, a new more deadly dinosaur has been introduced.

Well, that’s the plot of Jurassic World, anyway. We gather it’s still proving to be quite the draw at the planet’s box offices and we happened to find this infographic down the back of the virtual sofa, so thought we’d share it now with every Jurassic-loving filmgoer.

Now if you happen to ever find yourself preparing for a vacation at Isla Nublar, you can plan your stay with this handy guide.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Pleased to eat you

Pleased to eat you

E&T news weekly #59 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

July 17, 2015

Friday July 17 2015

Aasha Bodhani  Aasha Bodhani, industry features editor
Contracts for UK to Norway subsea power link awarded

The world’s longest undersea electricity interconnector has been given the go ahead to be built between the UK and Norway. Firms from both countries and Italy and France will join forces in a bid to deliver low carbon electricity and bring down electricity prices in the UK and Norway.

Thousands of Londoners killed by air pollution every year

Pollution is a killer, according to researchers from King’s College London. The study reveals toxic nitrogen dioxide emissions and nano-scale particles have affected mortality rates in London than expected. Despite the figures, Boris Johnson said the data was five years old and since then measures have been put in place to clean up the air in the capital.

dominic-lenton  Dominic Lenton, managing editor
Technology ideas to improve life of elderly

A barcode scanner that lets your neighbours know what’s in your fridge might sound like something out of Nineteen Eighty Four, but it’s a serious proposal as a way of helping elderly people to stay in their own homes by using technology to keep an eye on them. We probably all know at least one person who has to regularly pop round to visit an ageing relative; this, and other ideas in an IET-backed report, won’t replace valuable human contact, but might make life less stressful. Not sure that when I’m a grumpy old man I’ll be keen on a ‘cuddle cushion’ that gives the sensation of being wrapped in someone’s arms though.

‘Vital signs’ wearable tech monitor trialled in UK

Another way of tackling a surge in the number of elderly people that threatens to overwhelm health services is this device that sends an alarm out if a patient’s condition suddenly deteriorates. It won’t keep anyone out of hospital who needs to be there, but will help staff responsible for keeping an eye on lots of patients to use their time more efficiently.

Alex Kalinaukas  Alex Kalinauckas, assistant features editor
Solar Impulse stuck in Hawaii due to irreparable battery damage

Very sad news that the Solar Impulse 2 solar-powered plane, which had been attempting to circumnavigate the globe in stages without any fuel, has been forced to postpone the next leg of its journey after irreparable damage to its batteries. The damage, caused by the batteries overheating, was discovered after the plane completed the record breaking five days and nights flight from Nagoya in Japan and Hawaii. The team behind the plane have estimated they won’t be able to carry on with the record attempt until April 2016 and hopefully they’ll have found a way to keep the batteries cool by then.

Battle for the skies over English Channel in electric plane race

It’s been 75 years since the Battle of Britain but now there’s another aerial duel taking place in the skies above Kent and the English Channel. Didier Esteyne, flying Airbus’s E-Fan plane, and Hugues Duval, piloting his own home-built Cri-Cri plane, both crossed the channel in electric aircraft – with Hugues flying first from France to England. Airbus were suitably unimpressed Hugues had stolen their thunder and immediately questioned the legitimacy of his achievement as he’d launched from a carrier plane – poor sports indeed!

Rebecca Northfield  Rebecca Northfield, assistant features editor
Technology ideas to improve life of elderly

Although this is conceptual, rather than reality, I think these ideas are a good starting point to help the ever-growing elderly population. I worry about my elderly relatives all the time and check up on them on a regular basis. I’m sure I’m not alone on this. I’m thankful that my grandparents live down the road from me and it’s easy to contact them by phone if I’m not able to see them. However, that’s not the case for everyone. Technological possibilities could help the ageing population with blood pressure, loneliness, dehydration – there are endless opportunities to improve the lives of many people, it’s just up to society whether they want to invest in the future. Things like this will probably happen after my grandparents’ time, but it would put my mind at ease if it was available to my parents’ generation. Bring on old wrinklies with wearable technologies!

Thousands of Londoners killed by air pollution every year

Like we didn’t know this already. I have been warned by my Londoner parents to never walk in the tunnels wearing any form of white clothing. You come out covered in muck and grime. Also, blowing your nose after a day out in The Old Smoke makes you feel like a sooty chimney. A friend from South East London visited me once and said he’d never seen such bright stars in the evening, and his breathing greatly improved – he has asthma and the London smog irritates his lungs. The study was conducted for Transport for London and the economic loss caused by the pollution is at £3.7bn. Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the priority for him is to protect the wellbeing of his residents. Let’s hope it continues and deaths by air pollution end in our capital city.

Lorna Sharpe  Lorna Sharpe, sub-editor
Landmine detector spots plastic-based mines underground

“The UN estimates that it would take more than 1,100 years to clear the estimated 110 million landmines situated in 70 countries.” That truly shocking figure was quoted by Sir Bobby Charlton, whose Find A Better Way charity is partnering with the University of Bath to develop an improved mine detector that’s affordable in the countries most affected. Anything that stops civilians (including children) being maimed or killed by the weapons of long-past conflicts deserves our full support.

RFID tagged bees offer insight into insect disease

We need bees. Much of the world’s plant life relies on them for pollination. Now, with the help of tiny RFID tags, Australian researchers are studying how bees are affected by low-level infections that don’t kill them. It’s interesting, and important for agriculture. The picture’s great, too.

Laura Onita  Laura Onita, news reporter
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider finds pentaquarks particles

Well it didn’t take long for the Large Hadron Collider to be on to something. About a month ago the atom-smasher, which discovered the much-hailed Higgs boson in 2012, was gearing up for re-start after a two-year pause. This week the engineers announced they have discovered a new kind of particle called pentaquarks. Even though the existence of pentaquarks was first proposed in the 1960s, earlier experiments that have searched for the particles proved inconclusive – until now.

Technology ideas to improve life of elderly

Cuddle cushions with sensors to give the sensation of being wrapped in someone’s arms was just one of the ingenious tech ideas to help the elderly, included in a report this week. There’s more: water bottles that can tell if drinkers are dehydrated and a kettle that could take a pensioner’s blood pressure. All great and noble if innovation isn’t treated as a gap in the market, which more or less turns UK’s aging population into a commercial opportunity.

Vitali Vitaliev  Vitali Vitaliev, features editor
UK’s first ‘carbon-positive’ house built in Wales

This is all very good of course. I am only somewhat worried about the location. What was the reason behind building this amazing house, with all its photovoltaic elements and solar panels, in Central Wales which, according to the latest Met Office data [http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/rain/how-much-does-it-rain-in-the-uk], is one of the three wettest (and hence most ‘sunny-less’) places in the UK? I remember interviewing the travel writer Jan Morris in her Welsh home, not far from the town of Pyle where the new carbon-positive house is located. “I love everything about Wales,” she said, adding.” But only wish we had less rain and more sunlight…” Here, hear. With all due respect to the Cardiff University scientists, I have to confess that the logic of building that innovative house in Wales is the same as trying to cultivate palm trees in Greenland. The latter, as far as I know, has not been tried yet.

#BBCmicrobit micro computer free to one million schoolchildren – an annotated infographic

July 13, 2015

For those of a certain age, the words “BBC Micro” will evoke memories of playing simplistic, heavily pixellated but nonetheless incredibly thrilling computer games in the school IT cupboard, having booked it for that one precious hour a week under the guise of learning computer programming. Quite what we learned from Arcade Action – beyond the necessary action required in the event of alien invasion of Planet Earth – remains a mystery. Good times, nonetheless.

Now a new generation of young programmers/alien blasters will be well served by this new Beeb computer, cutely called the BBC micro:bit, deftly positioning the diminutive motherboard as a firmly future-facing device yet with an affectionate retro nod to the past.

The BBC is to give away one million of these miniature micro:bit computers to British schoolchildren in a drive to teach them how computers work.

E&T news reported this BBC micro:bit news story last week.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

BBC micro:bit

BBC micro:bit

E&T news weekly #58 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

July 10, 2015

Friday July 10 2015

Laura Onita  Laura Onita, news reporter
Technology disruption causes headaches for US businesses

Technology makes life easier and the economy more efficient. Until it fails. It was a rough day for technology in the US on Wednesday: its biggest airline, its oldest stock exchange and its most prominent business newspaper all suffered technology problems that upended service for parts of the day. It seems technology glitches that temporarily knock out vital services and conveniences of modern life are likely to become more common as computers and other electronic devices increasingly connect together over the Internet.

Update 999 services for smartphone generation, says report

Can you imagine texting 999 in an emergency, rather than calling the number? A new report by the IET is calling for radical changes to the emergency service to reflect the digital age, where more people, especially those younger, are communicating via text and social media. And as one of our readers suggested on Twitter, maybe this should be rolled out across all emergency numbers, including 911 and 112. This way calls and messages would be filtered to receive faster responses.

Jonathan Wilson  Jonathan Wilson, online managing editor
National Trust invests £30m in renewable energy

Kudos to the National Trust for applying the latest green energy thinking to its historic buildings as part of a Trust-wide drive to introduce renewable energy solutions at its managed properties. At Blickling Estate in Norfolk, for example, pipes will be run in to the lake in order to extract heat from the water to warm the house, replacing two oil tanks and their attendant reliance on fossil fuel. Over 40 similar projects are due to be rolled out across the Trust’s portfolio of properties, including stately homes and castles. Ancient buildings: cutting-edge thinking.

70 years of computing captured in musical composition

You wouldn’t necessarily know that elderly computers were providing the rumbling, abstracted, ambient bed for this composition – it could have just as easily been done using any modern music software program on a laptop – but that’s not the point. This is both a preservation and artistic reimagining of the industrial sounds of those early computing behemoths, capturing them for current future generations, for whom the most noise a computer is likely to make is the soft whirring of a hard drive or the occasional heavy breathing of a CPU fan.

Aasha Bodhani  Aasha Bodhani, industry features editor
Uber launches commuter boat service in Istanbul

Despite local taxi drivers protesting against its services and a recent ban in France, Uber shows no signs of stopping. The taxi-firm app has launched Uber Boat in Istanbul to provide commuters an alternative option to avoid congested bridges. The boats have a capacity of six to eight people and can reach Atakoy for 425 lira; however it will face tough competition from local boatmen who are open to haggling.

Lego to invest millions in use of sustainable materials

Last year alone, Lego produced 60 million plastic blocks of Lego, but its new ambition is to create sustainable materials by 2030. The company is investing a whooping one billion Danish Krone to become environmentally friendly and provide children with a unique play experience, as well as inspire them to build a better tomorrow.

Alex Kalinaukas  Alex Kalinauckas, assistant features editor
Solar Impulse breaks record for solo flying

Congratulations to the team behind the Solar Impulse plane that has broken the world record for the longest non-stop solo flight during its journey from Japan to Hawaii. Particular credit has to go to the pilot, Andre Borschberg, who was only able to take naps of 20 minute durations during the 76 hour flight while the plane was on autopilot – that sounds exhausting!

Porous li-ion battery design less likely to overheat or explode

Let’s face it, anything that can improve a design by making it “less likely to overheat or explode” is a winner in my book. With lithium-ion batteries powering the majority of the devices we own, this new approach from researchers in Korea uses a porous solid material that makes the cells less likely to overheat – a known problem with lithium-ion batteries.

Tereza Pultarova  Tereza Pultarova, news reporter
Swapping faces in photos could protect privacy online

How would a generation of selfie stickers and Instagram over-sharers react to an algorithm that automatically turns their faces in pictures they share online into fictional, although realistic ones? The only thing that would stay would be the beautiful smile. A Hertfordshire University researcher believes that that’s exactly what should be happening with every picture online to protect privacy of those involved. And they can even turn you into some cool characters, like Shrek or the Queen.

Italian surveillance firm left exposed after hack-attack

That certainly must have been embarrassing ….

dominic-lenton  Dominic Lenton, managing editor
Engineering uptake on the rise at UK universities

One aspect of this week’s Budget that didn’t get as much attention as it warranted was to do with how the government will boost the UK economy in the long term, at the same time as the short-term needed to address the deficit and national debt. Replacing maintenance grants for students from low-income backgrounds with loans might deter some from studying for a degree, but giving universities more freedom to set their own fees will probably make this irrelevant. Few students will ever pay off their loans anyway, making the system effectively a tax on graduates. At the same time though there was news of a levy on industry to fund more apprenticeships, which don’t usually involve borrowing to study. How will all this affect applications to university engineering courses? New UCAS figures show a welcome nine per cent rise in UK applicants, something the country’s going to need if it’s going to address the current skills shortage. And it could be argued that making young people think more about the value of their degree will focus attention on subjects that lead to potentially more lucrative careers in sectors like technology, as well as alternatives to higher education. At the end of the day, we need engineers, and should listen to what the companies that employ them say they need from new recruits.

National Trust invests £30m in renewable energy

Nice to read on the same day that a letter arrived inviting me to renew my National Trust membership that some of the money will go towards a £30m in installing renewable energy technology at historical sites. I’ll be in Norfolk later this year and look forward to seeing one of the first projects to go ahead, a scheme at Blickling Estate that will use heat from the property’s lake water to warm the house, removing two oil tanks and more than 25,000 litres of oil consumption a year. Proof that heritage doesn’t have to be about looking back to the past.

Brazil unveils #Olympics torch for #Rio2016 – an annotated infographic

July 10, 2015

The 2016 Olympic torch has been revealed ahead of next year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro, featuring an innovative recycled aluminium design.

It looks pretty nice. We like the floating segments. Not convinced that elements of the design are in any way evocative of Copacabana promenade – not even if you squint your eyes and play Barry Manilow in the background – but we’ll let that one slide.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Carrying a torch for you

Carrying a torch for you

 

#NewHorizons probe pings back first pics of Pluto – an annotated infographic

July 8, 2015

After nine years and a journey of 5 billion kilometres, NASA’s New Horizons probe is to become the first spacecraft to visit the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

The piano-sized craft will also study the Kuiper Belt, the mysterious zone believed to contain materials formed at the birth of the solar system.

E&T news has previously reported on New Horizons’ computer glitches and Nasa’s tweaks to guide the craft on its Pluto approach.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

New Horizons approaches Pluto

New Horizons approaches Pluto

 

#Apple #iPhone7 rumours, models, screen technology, new features – an annotated infographic

July 7, 2015

It’s the traditional annual event: no sooner has the dust settled on one new iPhone release, folk becoming accustomed to the look and feel of the latest shiny Cupertino telephonic device, their thoughts idly turning to perhaps acquiring one at next upgrade, than all rational thoughts are torpedoed by interwebs whispers about the next next shiny Cupertino telephonic device.

It’s all about new screen technologies for the iPhone 7, according to the usual swirling rumour mills and tech gossip mongers.

Apple has begun manufacturing its next generation iPhone, with Force Touch technology, first seen in the Apple Watch. Recent patent filings also show the tech giant is experimenting with all-new input systems.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone 7

 

#JurassicWorld phenomenally successful – the Indominus Rex of the box office – an annotated infographic

July 7, 2015

Jurassic World: essentially the same film as its three Jurassic predecessors! People worldwide still crazy for it! Quelle surprise!

Humans monkey around with dinosaur DNA for fun and profit. One or more of the genetically created dinosaurs loses it big time. Some B-list characters and extras in the film get eaten. The A-list characters survive and run away. The dinosaurs win. End of story.

If there’s ever a Jurassic Park V – and given the paucity of new ideas coming out of Hollywood these days, it seems a box-office-banker surety – the plot will not deviate in essence from this.

None of this has distracted from the super soaraway success of Jurassic World, which has taken just three weeks to earn more than $1 billion worldwide. In its third weekend, it pulled in $54m in North America alone. This is enough money to open Jurassic World for real. Come on, boffins, make with the GM dinos, chop chop!

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Jurassic Park franchise: no danger of extinction

Jurassic Park franchise: no danger of extinction

#ISS supply ship options as #Nasa extends use of private contractors – an annotated infographic

July 6, 2015

We’ve all been there. The delivery man says he’s going to call on a given day at a given time, so you sit waiting at home. He never shows up and now you’ve got no stuff and you’ve lost a day of your life.

Such is life on board the International Space Station (ISS) of late, with our brave space dudes awaiting a delivery of fresh supplies, only to hear that the spacecraft carrying it all exploded shortly after launch. Yodel might be one of the most unreliable courier firms on Earth, but as far as we know its lorries don’t burst in to flames, torching all your stuff. At least you’ll get it, eventually.

The positive news (sort of) for the good burghers of the ISS is that Nasa is branching out in its use of private launch contractors. A Russian Progress 60P resupply ship has been drafted in as a replacement service following the catastrophic loss of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo ship. This was NASA’s third private launch failure in eight months.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Supply and demand

Supply and demand


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